Friday, 14 September 2018

Ligue 1: August - 2nd September Review (First 4 league games)


August saw the return of Ligue 1 and with it, excellent football, quality goals, new managers and plenty of controversial moments. As expected PSG are the only side in the league with a perfect record having won their opening 4 games while Guingamp, Bordeaux and Angers make up the bottom 3.

Thomas Tuchel has made the perfect start in charge of PSG winning his opening 4 league games. Tuchel’s side have been very dominant so far beating Caen, Guingamp, Angers and Nimes. Tuchel has also unlocked Neymar with the Brazilian starting the season brilliantly notching 4 goals in the opening month of the season. PSG are expected to dominate and certainly Tuchel has bigger fish to fry in September with the Champions League getting under way. It has also been a terrific start to the season for Dijon and Toulouse. Olivier Dall’Oglio will be delighted with their start to the season with Dijon winning their opening 3 games against Montpellier, Nantes and Nice however, they ended the month with defeat against Caen but overall Dall’Oglio will be delighted and will want that momentum to continue going into September. Toulouse have also started excellently since they were smashed 4-0 Marseille on the opening weekend. Alain Casanova’s side have picked winning 3 straight league games including the derby with Bordeaux. It has been an excellent opening month for Toulouse’s new manager and he will want that good momentum to continue in September with their next being against Monaco.

The two promoted sides have certainly made an impression in the opening month with Nimes and Reims both collecting 6 points from their opening 4 games and they lie in mid-table. Reims impressed winning their opening 2 games including a win against Lyon while Nimes have also shown signs they are here to stay winning their opening 2 including a brilliant win over Marseille. However, both sides have lost their last 2 games and will be hopeful of re-capturing their early season form in September. Nimes kick off September with a trip to Bordeaux while Reims go to Nantes.
Despite their difficult financial issues, it has been a fantastic start to the season for Lille. Christophe Galtier’s side sit in 4th with 7 points from their opening 4 games including victories over Rennes and Guingamp as well as an excellent away draw against Monaco. Lille are battling Financial Fair Play, but credit must go to Galtier who has built a team on a small budget and let big players like Ibrahim Amadou, Vincent Enyeama, Yassine Benzia and Yves Bissouma leave the club. It is one of their new signings Jonathan Bamba who has caught the eye. The young winner left St Etienne in the summer and joined Lille on a free and has been a breath of fresh air notching 3 goals in 4 matches and has delighted the Lille fans with his performances. Both he and his club will want to carry their momentum in September especially with the derby against Amiens coming up.

Marseille, Rennes and Montpellier have also made strong starts notching 7 points from their opening 4 games leaving them in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Rudi Garcia’s Marseille have been inconsistent in their performances so far dominating Toulouse on the opening weekend before a very poor defeat against Nimes. But they ended the month with a dramatic late win in the derby with Monaco and no doubt Garcia will be delighted with his side’s spirit to fight back to win the game and he will want Marseille’s Champions League push to continue in September when the season really gets underway. Sabri Lamouchi’s Rennes have also started well, and he will be confident his side can continue their good form going into September. Rennes have won both home games this season without conceding and Lamouchi will be satisfied. He will also be pleased with a solid draw at Stade Velodrome against Marseille. Lamouchi will also be confident Hatem Ben Arfa will be a key player after he signed until the end of the season. Montpellier are on a 3-match unbeaten run since their opening day defeat to Dijon. Michel Der Zakarian’s side have won both away games and struggled at game losing and drawing to St Etienne. Der Zakarian will want their home form to improve in September when they face Strasbourg.

It has been a disappointing start for bitter rivals Lyon and St Etienne both locked on 6 points in the top half. While they are unbeaten in their opening 4 games, St Etienne have certainly not set the world alight with just one win against Guingamp. 3 draws have followed including back to back goalless draws and Jean Louis Gasset needs his team to start firing if they are going to challenge for European places, but they face a tricky game against PSG next. In contrast, Lyon are showing major inconsistencies with a win and a defeat both home and away. So far when conceding first Lyon have failed to comeback and even score. But when they have scored first this season, they have won and kept a clean sheet. Genesio’s side were poor against Nice and they must bounce back starting against Caen. Like Lyon, it has been a disappointing start for last seasons’ runners-up Monaco with Leonardo Jardim sitting in 13th place with just 4 points from their opening 4 games. Jardim has once again lost key players to arguably bigger clubs and he must replace them which is always extremely difficult. His new look team are struggling to gel. They are winless in 3 including 2 straight defeats to Bordeaux and Marseille. Jardim has done a sensational job but it could be his toughest season to date in charge of the principality side.

It has been a difficult start to the season for Guingamp and Antoine Kombouare. Guingamp are the only side without a point so far having lost all 4 of their league games so far. However, despite their poor start, Kombouare will be confident things will improve and his future is certainly secure having signed a new deal during August. He will be disappointed with their start but he will believe September will be the month where their season begins but they face a tricky trip to Marseille in their next league game. It has also been a disappointing start for Bordeaux with the club sitting 19th and Gus Poyet resign after the sale of Gaetan Laborde to Montpellier. Things have been tough on the pitch too with 3 defeats from 4 but they did secure a place in the group stages of the Europa League. Francois Kamano has been their star on the pitch so far notching all 3 of Bordeaux goals including 2 in the win over Monaco but their league form has been flat overall. However, despite their disappointing start, there are plenty of reasons to be positive as the club has new owners following a successful takeover and a new manager in Ricardo Gomes who joins from Brazilian football. The fans will hope September is where Bordeaux’s season ignites. Gomes is relatively unknown and must start well to install the belief in the fans. His first game will be against Nimes before a trip to the Czech Republic in the Europa League. The final side making up the bottom 3 is Angers with 3 points in their opening 4 games. Angers lost their opening 3 games but a win over Lille to finish the month will no doubt have eased the pressure on Stephane Moulin from the fans and board. Angers are a small club and no doubt survival is the target each season but a slow start to a season can cost teams and they have started slowly but Moulin will hop the win over Lille takes them forward nicely going into September.

Nice, Nantes and Caen all appointed new managers in the summer and all 3 clubs lie in the bottom half after the opening month of the season. It has been a tough start for Patrick Vieira at Nice with the club sitting in 17th with just 4 points. Nice sold Jean Michael Seri, Alassane Plea and Maxime Le Marchand and these players were vital to the club and so far, their presence has been missed with Myzaine Maolida not making the best impression so far as Nice’s new striker while Nice have struggled defensively. They have also struggled at home losing both matches without scoring including a shock 4-0 defeat to Dijon. However, since then Nice have gone 2 games unbeaten and finished the month well with a win over Lyon. Miguel Cardoso has also struggled at Nantes so far also collecting 4 points from his opening 4 games. However, like Nice, Nantes head into September on the back of a win over Strasbourg. Cardoso has got a very good tune out of Emiliano Sala with the Argentine notching 3 goals in 4 games including the vital winner against Strasbourg. Fabian Mercadal has made the best start out of these 3 new managers with Caen sitting in 12th with 5 points from their opening 4 and only one defeat against PSG. They are also unbeaten in 3 since their opening weekend defeat. Mercadal will be satisfied overall but knows Caen must continue to improve. Last seasons’ new sides Amiens and Strasbourg both have collected 4 points from their opening 4 games and both at times have showed elements of second season syndrome. They both magnificently survived last season, and both go into this with the same intention of staying in the league once again. Moussa Konate was excellent for Amiens last season and has started this campaign in good form notching 3 goals in the opening month and he will be crucial to their season once again. Amiens have the perfect game in a derby against Lille to kick off September and they will be confident of beating their rivals once again.

September will no doubt bring more excellent football and quality goals and the odd moment of controversy. There are some tasty games to come in September including Amiens vs Lille, Rennes vs PSG, Lyon vs Marseille, Bordeaux vs Lille, St Etienne vs Monaco, Nice vs PSG and Lille vs Marseille. So, expect plenty of good football and excellent goals as September gets underway and we could also begin to see where each teams’ seasons could end up going.

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